ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla had third-period goals to pad Calgary’s lead and help stop a three-game losing streak for the Flames with a 5-2 win on Sunday night over the Minnesota Wild.
Matt Giordano, Lee Stempniak and T.J. Brodie scored during a furious first period, and Mikka Kiprusoff steadied himself after the early barrage to make 19 saves for the Flames. He improved to 26-15-5 in his career against the Wild.
Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Johnson had goals in those first 9 minutes for the Wild, but goalie Niklas Backstrom was pulled for Josh Harding after the Flames took a 3-2 lead.
After a scoreless second period, Harding skated out to grab the puck and clear it behind the net, but Stempniak pressured him — like a quarterback hurry in football — into a sloppy pass. Tanguay was waiting on the other side to shoot it in.
Then Iginla, who was recently separated from Tanguay in an attempt by coach Brent Sutter to mix up his lines and re-ignite the attack, muscled inside of Justin Falk to tip in a pass from Curtis Glencross.
Iginla, the all-time leading scorer against the Wild with 32 goals in 63 games, jawed at the home team on his way off the ice and got doused with some water. Minnesota got a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, and coach Mike Yeo stared straight ahead with a stern look.
Backstrom was in the net for the first time in four games — he was tending to a personal matter this week — and struggled from the start. His streak of 162-plus minutes without allowing a goal against the Flames ended, and he was yanked from a home game for the first time in nearly two years.
After losing at home to the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Friday, this was not the response Yeo was looking for from a team that boasted the NHL’s best record earlier this week before dropping the last two games. The Wild had won 10 of their previous 12 going into Thanksgiving Day.
The Flames had lost four of their previous five games. Iginla has been pressured by Sutter to adjust his role at this stage of his career, and the Flames — after a 2004 Stanley Cup Finals appearance and four straight first-round eliminations — have been headed toward a third straight season without the playoffs.
But this was a badly needed performance, against a division rival no less.
Five goals in less than 9 minutes isn’t exactly an expected development when the Flames play the Wild, but that’s just what happened at the beginning of this game between the third and fourth-lowest scoring teams in the league.
At the tail end of a power play, Mikko Koivu notched his team-leading 14th assist with a touch pass to Clutterbuck, who was alone on the wing and made a slick left-right move on Kiprusoff for a backhanded tuck to score first.
Giordano struck back for Calgary by stealing the puck by the boards from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and sneaking a bad-angle shot past Backstrom that hit the goalie’s thigh before going in. Stempniak followed with a highlight-reel fake to skate past Marco Scandella and send a shot straight between Backstrom’s pads.
About a minute later, Johnson lost the puck when he was smothered behind the net, but Kyle Brodziak snagged it at the point and found Johnson open for the tying score. But Backstrom let in another five-hole goal 39 seconds later when Brodie’s backhander — his first NHL score — slipped through for a 3-2 lead.
Notes: Former Wild enforcer, the late Derek Boogaard, was honored with a highlight video of his best hits. His ex-teammates gave flowers, hugs and handshakes to his family on the ice before the game. … The Flames are 8-0 when leading after two periods.
Wild Postgame Interviews
Minnesota Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo
Minnesota Wild Goalie Nicklas Backstrom
Minnesota Wild Player Matt Cullen
Minnesota Wild Player Mikko Koivu
Minnesota Wild Player Devin Setoguchi
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